Teen Sexting In NH: What's Going On With Our Kids and What You Can Do!

Teen Sexting In NH: What's Going On With Our Kids and What You Can Do!


Teen Sexting In NH
What's Going On With Our Kids and What You Can Do!

by Sarah Polus

If you are a parent or grandparent of a teenager or if you are middle, junior high or high school teacher, then chances are you have heard of the term sexting. For those who may not know what it is, sexting is when sexually explicit material, texts pr pictures, is sent to another person by cell phone.

Statistics in the United States:

A recent study conducted by Donald Strassberg and Ryan McKinnon at the University of Utah's Physiology Department survey 606 kids, ages 14-18. They discovered that 121 teenagers (20%) participated in sexting by sending sexually suggestive self-portraits. Twenty percent is alarming!

What is even more alarming is that about 250 of the 606 teenagers admitted they had received a picture that was sexual in nature and 25% of those teenagers admitted forwarding the pictures others.

Cosmo Girl Magazine did a survey in 2008 that showed that 22% of teenage girls ages 13-19 and 18% of boys in the same age group confessed they have sent naked pictures or videos of themselves to other people.

Statistics in New Hampshire:

In 2011, the University of New Hampshire performed a study on teenagers and sexting. In the study, 1,560 teenagers between the ages of 10 and 17, who used the internet, were asking about their involvement in sexting either online or through their cell phones. The end results were that 2.5% of the children that were interviewed admitted to partaking in sexting in the last 12 months.

Executive Director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union states that in 2009, she had seen 100 reports of sexting every few months. She stated that "All teens should remember the story of Jessica Logan, an 18-year old Ohio girl who sent nude photos of herself to her boyfriend only to learn that he shared the pictures with hundreds of other girls. Logan was teased and taunted enough that she hung herself."

Legal Consequences:

Many teens are unaware of the legal implications behind sexting. Even if someone did not send a nude photo of themselves to anyone, if they receive a sexually explicit picture of another person and they forward that picture to others, they have just committed a crime and could face criminal charges for their actions.

If the person in the video or picture is a minor, all those involved in sending and receiving the photos or videos may be face charges of child pornography and face having to register as a sex offender. Not to mention that it may stay on their criminal record for many, many years.

And parents may not exactly be in the clear either. If a parent knows that their child is engaging in sexting and does nothing about it, they are at risk of facing charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. More serious actions can also include an investigation by Child Protective Services if they ignore their teenager's sexting participation.

NH Laws Regarding Sexting:

There has been some talk among NH lawmakers about sexting but as of now there has not been a bill passed or even proposed regarding sexting laws. Because there is an absence of a law, those engaging in sexting with minors are charged under the state child pornography laws.

Sexting Prevention in New Hampshire:

Former Attorney General of New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte, was very involved in talking to the public and making them aware of issues such as cyberbullying, internet safety and sexting. She stated, "Kids need to be taught to appreciate the laws as they pertain to the internet. They are citizens in an online community and that, as in the real world, they should be respectful of others. And if sexually explicit material is ever received, teenagers need to take responsibility and tell an adult, delete it and stop the chain."

What can Parents Do to Help?

Know the phone's features.   Before parents let their child have a cell phone, it is important that they understand how certain features work like sending and receiving photos, text messages and videos. There are limits parents can place on the phone such as limiting photo sharing and texting as well as word filtering.

Create a policy.    Phones should come with rules. Communicate your expectations. Address the important issues with your child, whatever you think appropriate. If needed, parents can also place time restrictions on kid's cell phones. Use your own judgement but know that parents have the right to monitor their child's cell phone usage and to look through their phone as they deem necessary.

Talk to your kids.   Parents should also talk to their child about some key factors that the child needs to understand. Just because they send a picture of themselves to someone does not mean it will stay with that person. Have their friends ever violated other 'secrets'? Nothing can stop someone else from forwarding 'private' pictures. Remind them that nothing is private online. Everything and anything is out there for the entire world to see.


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